21 December 2010

Mrs. Trimble, guest reader

A note came home from school the second week of December.  Mind you, notes have been coming home on what seems like a daily basis. Everything from picture retake reminders to requests for donations for the mitten tree. But this one was "special," my daughter said.  This one was asking for parents to come in and share a favorite Christmas book or tradition.  With big blue eyes my daughter handed it to me and asked, "so what book are you bringing, mom?" Fine.  If this will make her happy, I can certainly find 20 minutes out of my Christmas season to go sit and read a book or talk to her class.  No problem.  Add it to my list of things to do.  I got it covered.

I checked the "yes" box and sent the form back to school.  But that was on December 10.  I told myself I would worry about what I was actually going to read or share later.  Well, later was yesterday.  Suddenly it was time to go to school.  I grabbed the first book I saw, dropped JT off at the neighbors house and raced to school.  I got to her classroom on time to find 18 3rd graders sitting in a perfect semi-circle on the floor.  I saw what was obviously the teacher's chair perfectly placed in the middle of the semi-circle.  And then I saw it. THE BOOK.  The book I bought for Natalie 4 years ago when her dad was deployed for Christmas.  The book she had obviously picked for me to read and brought with her to school in her backpack.  The book I cannot make it through without crying. This was not going to end well.

I said a little prayer that went something like this, "Lord, please don't let me scare these children by boo-hooing all over the pages of this book," picked up The Soldier's Night Before Christmas and started reading.   Little giggles erupted every now and then and things were just peachy until page 10.  You see, page 10 is where the Santa of Soldiers stands back, takes a look at the soldiers asleep in their racks, and renders a salute.  It gets me every time.  This time was no exception.  Except this time I had 18 pairs of eyes on me.  I couldn't hide the fact that my voice was breaking with a cough.  I couldn't pass off my tears as "something in my eye."  They were on to me.

I summoned the courage to look at them and what I saw surprised me.  I saw one little girl with her head down, crying.  One little boy was up on his knees trying to crane his neck to look at me from under the book, tears in his eyes.   And I saw my daughter wiping away the tears from the corners of her eyes too.  I was expecting them to think I was nutty.  Why was this mom in here crying while reading us a book?  What's her deal? I expected a bunch of, "what's wrong with your mom, Natalie?"  "Hey, Mrs. Trimble, why are you crying?"  However, that was not the case.  These kids were WAY more mature than I gave them credit for.

I made it through the rest of the book without too many more stumbles.  I closed the book, took a deep breath and said, "Raise your hand if your mom or dad has ever been deployed during the holidays."  What followed was one of the most moving conversations I have ever been a part of.  I wish I had a video recording of it.  So many stories. So much pride in their voices talking about their moms and dads.  These little people have endured so much in their mere eight or nine years on this earth. And they do it over and over again. They do it with grace. They do it with courage.   They do it without even knowing they do it.  That's what makes them so very special.

As I was leaving the classroom, I heard a little girl whisper to Natalie, "Natalie, your mom is cool."  I smiled.  Little does that girl know, I think she is the cool one.  I would tell her myself, but it would probably make me cry.  Again.


Lindsay said...

Amy, you just made me cry. What a moving day you had!

Dana said...

Amy, how special moment. Thank you for sharing. No one knows what these kids go through except the parent that is left behind with them. You have done that well many times, and I am proud of you and glad that you are the mother of my grandchildren.

erin said...

Amy, what a beautiful story. I'm wiping tears myself. Thank you for sharing it, and have a wonderful Christmas.

Erin Krabel